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Published March 12, 2013, 11:35 PM

Halgrimson: Grilled veggies make a ‘divine’ soup

It’s called Zuppa All’ Ortolana at Toscana Italian restaurant in downtown Fargo. It is described on the menu as “Fresh Grilled Vegetable Soup.” And it is divine.

By: Andrea Hunter Halgrimson, INFORUM

It’s called Zuppa All’ Ortolana at Toscana Italian restaurant in downtown Fargo. It is described on the menu as “Fresh Grilled Vegetable Soup.”

And it is divine.

The restaurant opened in 2007 at 202 Broadway. Owners are Chef Mirco Marganti and his wife, Charlene Blazek.

Some months ago I asked Chef Morganti for the soup recipe and he kindly shared it with me via e-mail, and a rough draft follows:

Here we go – you need: zucchini, yellow squash, broccoli, spinach , tomatoes, red peppers and onions; vegetable stock; V8 Juice.

Thinly slice zucchini and yellow squash, quickly grill them, (15 second per side.)

Clean seeds from peppers and clean onions, then slice them.

Place peppers and onions into a pan and place them in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Making the soup: Place butter in a sauté pan and add zucchini and squash. Mix with chopped tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and the roasted pepper and onions. Add salt and pepper to your liking. Sauté for about 1 minute and add vegetable stock, simmer for another minute and add a sauté V8 juice (1 ounce per person). Simmer for two minutes and it’s ready to go.

I bought a grill pan – a large cast iron griddle with a ridged bottom – so I could get the charred stripe in the squash. I suppose I could have gotten a similar result from broiling the squash, but I’ve always wanted a grill pan and the recipe was a perfect excuse.

With apologies to Mr. Morganti, I adapted his recipe for use in my kitchen at home leaving out the broccoli. I do not like broccoli. In anything. I used olive oil to sauté and Knorr’s vegetable bouillon cube for the stock. It was good, but not as good as Morganti’s soup.

GRILLED VEGETABLE SOUP A LA TOSCANA

1 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise

1 small yellow squash, sliced lengthwise

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut in thin slices

1 onion, peeled and cut in thin slices

A generous handful of baby spinach

2 Roma tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 to 3 tablespoons butter or good olive oil

2 cups vegetable stock

2 cups V8 juice

Salt and pepper, to taste

Thinly slice zucchini and yellow squash lengthwise and grill them – about 15 seconds on each side.

Turn oven to 350 degrees F. Place peppers and onions in a greased pan. Roast them in the oven for about 25 minutes.

Heat butter or oil in a large pan and briefly sauté zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers and onions. Add tomatoes, spinach, vegetable stock and V8 juice and simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

On our evenings at Toscana, we’ve sampled many of their other dishes, always with the soup and the best Caesar salad in town. Some of our favorites are the:

  • Carpaccio – Thin sliced raw fillet of beef topped with fresh Parmigiano Reggiano and drizzled with truffle oil;

  • Spaghetti allo scoglio – Spaghetti with fresh prawns, calamari, scampi, fresh clams and mussels in a mild spicy tomato basil sauce; and the

  • Ossobuco – Slow roasted veal shank served on a bed of fresh mashed potatoes topped with a veal reduction and wild porcini mushrooms sauce.

    The Toscana menu is available online at toscanadowntown.com/.

Readers can reach Forum columnist Andrea Hunter Halgrimson at ahalgrimson@forumcomm.com.

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